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Alumna Arlene Crescenzi Allen ’64 Leaves Gift of a Lifetime

Forever revering her Montclair education, Arlene Crescenzi Allen ’64 left a transformational gift to the University that will assist generations of students in gaining their teaching education.

Posted in: Alumni News and Events

Arlene Allen

Throughout her lifetime, Arlene Crescenzi Allen ’64 loved to help others. She was devoted to her profession of teaching and cherished her Montclair education.

So much so that she named Montclair in her will, leaving a transformational gift that will provide scholarship support for students in the Teacher Education Program at the College for Education and Engaged Learning (CEEL). Allen passed in March 2023, and her generous bequest, recently received by Montclair State University Foundation, will extend her compassion for future generations.

An English major, Allen credited Montclair for preparing her for a fulfilling career. She taught English and literature for the Clark Board of Education for 37 years, much of it at Governor Livingston Regional High School. She retired in 2001 from Arthur L. Johnson High School, also in Clark.

“Arlene valued and thrived on mastering her learning,” says Myrtis Yake, who served with Allen on the CEEL advisory board. “Her education at Montclair was her gateway to the world – it was the highlight of her young life.”

“When Arlene spoke about her years at Montclair State University, it was as though she was currently living and reporting on the experience…with such enthusiasm, appreciation and reverence for it,” Yake adds.

“With her generous bequest, Arlene made the choice to create something that endures,” says Montclair State University President Jonathan Koppell. “This transformational gift helps Montclair carry out its core mission of creating ways for students to find academic success and build their potential. Arlene has made it possible for students to change the trajectories of their lives – just as she did with her Montclair education.”

A life of service

Allen was an inaugural member of the then College of Education and Human Services (CEHS) Advisory Board and was steadfast in her involvement – an extension of her exceptional commitment to Montclair and to its teacher education students in particular. A dedicated supporter, Allen served on the Alumni Association Board, as a member of her 50th Anniversary Reunion Committee and participated in panel discussions and on annual scholarship dinner committees over the years. She was honored as a distinguished alumna in 2016 as part of the University’s Convocation exercises.

Arlene and guest at a donor event

Supporting her passion for the University was Allen’s beloved husband, Craig, who passed away in 2019.

“I fondly recall that Arlene and Craig were on campus for numerous events throughout the years,” says Frank Alvarez ’76, fellow CEEL advisory board member. “She was totally committed to Montclair State University…and she leaves a great legacy behind through her service and contributions to the University.”

Transforming students’ lives

Eager to help students become teachers, Allen had established two scholarships at the University – the Arlene Allen Student Teacher Scholarship in 2009 and the Craig and Arlene Crescenzi Allen Endowed Scholarship in 2011 – to help support Montclair teacher education majors during their student teaching experience. Allen was a loyal donor to her alma mater, and in addition to providing scholarship support had made the lead gift to establish the Dr. Russell Krauss Classroom in University Hall, which was dedicated in 2008, in memory of a beloved professor and mentor.

“Financial support from Arlene’s endowment will provide critical support for generations of future teachers who otherwise would find it very difficult to afford college,” says Tamara Lucas, professor emerita and former dean of CEHS. “Many students at Montclair are from families for whom college expenses pose a major challenge. Many of those students have the potential to become excellent teachers – teachers who understand the challenges faced by future generations of students much like themselves. By making a college degree and teacher certification financially feasible for many students, Arlene’s endowment will not only contribute to their individual success, but also help to provide well prepared teachers for New Jersey’s students.”

A past recipient of Allen’s scholarship support, Begona Plasencia-Guzman ’22 majored in Spanish and was part of the University’s Teacher Education program. She is now working as a Spanish teacher at Montclair High School. “The scholarship was instrumental in my ability to complete my education. Without it, graduating would have been an even greater challenge…and I am profoundly grateful for the opportunities it afforded me,” she says.

“Scholarships like this not only alleviate financial burdens but also instill hope in students, enabling them to realize their aspirations. Mrs. Allen’s generosity has made a lasting impact on my life and countless others. I hope her legacy will continue to inspire future generations of students,” says Plasencia-Guzman.

“I am forever grateful for the opportunity Mrs. Allen enabled me to have,” says Elijah Hampton, who is graduating this month with a Master of Arts in Teaching, after completing his clinical requirements as a student teacher for 7th and 8th grade ELA at Elizabeth Public Schools. “I want to serve as an educator because I would like to have an impact on others, as prior teachers have had on me,” he shares. “Receiving the Craig and Arlene Crescenzi Allen Endowed Scholarship was a huge help toward my senior year. I am a service member, but I don’t get full coverage, so receiving this scholarship covered the remainder of the costs. I had financial freedom.”

“Arlene’s transformative legacy gift reflects her commitment to advancing education and empowering future generations of student teachers and educators, and we are grateful for the impact she has made possible through her remarkable commitment to her alma mater,” says Rita Walters, vice president for Development and Alumni Engagement.

Allen’s generosity of spirit will now live on for years to come. “Arlene’s heart was full of love and deep caring about higher education and Montclair State University,” says Yake. “She thrived as a teacher and valued teaching as a profession, and wanted to ‘pass it along’ to others….This gave her great joy to be able to do this.”

To learn how you can make a transformative impact and leave a lasting legacy, please contact Ely F. Santoni at 973-655-3695. Your planned gift has the power to change lives and shape the future in profound ways.

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Arlene Crescenzi Allen ’64